Organization

Organization Scheme

VMWare’s website is primarily organized in an ambiguous, topical scheme. However, it’s important to note that each of the primary navigation tools brings up mouseover menus that organizes specific pages under that topic by headings. Almost all of these headings are topical; however, a few are based on audience or a specific task.

The second global navigation tool found at the bottom of every page is also primarily topical, however, the “How To Get It” section’s links are all listed by task (i.e., Download Free Trial, Contact Sales, Find a Partner, etc.). One of the headings is also task oriented (get support).

Local navigation appears to change its organization scheme based on the page. Though primarily topical, some headings are geared towards audiences and tasks.

Organizational Structure

VMWare’s structure is a little difficult to classify, since there is a lot of content on the site. There are eight options in the primary global navigation tool. This would suggest a broad, shallow structure, but each option contains many additional options. Therefore, I would classify it as a broad and deep hierarchical structure. This does bring into question whether or not the site is overwhelming visitors with too many options.

Labeling

The labeling on the navigation systems is somewhat disjointed. First, the terms “Virtualize” and “Solutions” may not be familiar to most audiences. Most of the other labels (products, services, support & downloads, etc.) are fairly conventional, and are easy to understand. Still, the company may want to consider a more consistent approach to labeling the next time they redesign their site.

Navigation

VMWare uses a complex navigation system. Each page has two rows of global navigation with a small contextual navigation system beneath - in this case, links to articles about different aspects of the company. Beneath that is a local navigation bar that changes based on what section of the site the viewer is in. Next, the content of the page is displayed, which includes more contextual navigation options on most pages. Finally, the bottom of each page contains more global navigation options, which are presumably the most commonly visited pages of the site.


Home Page Analysis


1. Identifying the site, establishing the brand
VMware follows convention by placing its logo in the top right corner of its home page. Labels on some of the navigation also identify the page. There does not appear to be any branding in the form of a tagline that identifies the goal or mission of the site or company.

2. Setting the tone and personality of the site
The personality of the website is meant to reflect the personality of the company it represents. That is professional, hi-tech, solution-focused. Visually, the home page focuses on the cycling images and links located between the global and local navigation bars. Overall, the home page is designed to be simple to ensure visitors can quickly find the information they want.

The home page primarily uses shades of blue and green to break up the gray, white, and black of the textual and navigation elements. Blue is a color often meant to convey trust and stability, while green often represents freshness (or even money).

The use of a basic sans-serif font communicates a sense of a clean, simple, professional organization. In fact, there is no variation in the typography except in size. This may communicate a sense of stability and consistency.Though the text is limited on the home page, most of the sentences are action oriented. Contextual links in the center of the page and beneath the local navigation use words like plan, migrate, upgrade, and discover to communicate action. The site wants readers to take an action.

3. Helping People get a sense for what the site is all about
VMware does not make it instantly clear what the site is all about. Someone without a technical background might not even realize, at least from just looking at the home page, that VMware is a technical company. The graphics are fairly generic in terms of orienting to business, and words like “cloud” don’t necessarily refer to something technical. With some thought, a new viewer of the site might at least get a sense that the site’s goal is to sell something technical to businesses. Still, the homepage is not riddled with text and is comprised almost entirely of links paired with very short, task-oriented descriptions.

4. Letting people start key tasks immediately
Again, VMware follows convention by placing a search function at the top. A global navigation element under the search feature also grants access to areas of the site that are likely to see a lot of activity.

5. Sending each person on the right way, effectively and efficiently
Though the navigation is complex in terms of offering many (perhaps too many) options, many of the links are geared towards a specific task. For example, sections in the bottom global navigation element use headings such as “Get Support” and “How to Get It.” Returning visitors to the site will likely be able to perform a specific task through this site without much difficulty.
Overall, it is not immediately clear where some of the links lead which might make some visitors – especially first time visitors – unsure how to complete a task. If I’m interested in learning more about VMware’s products, what do I click on? Products, virtualize, solutions, cloud computing? All these seem like possible options which means some of the labels should probably be reconsidered.


Analysis of a pathway page (Products)


1. The hunt
If I were searching for information about a specific product offered by VMware, I would feel confident that the products page is leading me to a “good scent,” however, if I wanted a general idea of what VMware products were about, I would be less confident that I could find the information I needed.

2. People don’t want to read
This pathway page has a design that very closely resembles that of the home page. There is very little text, and what is here is part of a link. A very short paragraph in the header graphic of the page gives an introduction into what VMware’s products are, but the terminology is not very accessible.

3. Like a Table of Contents
The products page calls attention to what are likely the company’s best-selling or newest products, but the main navigation tool here is a “Product Index” which provides exact organization of each of the products the company offers in a well-organized list. The header graphic also provides links to two categories of products – datacenter and desktop.

4. Short descriptions
VMware makes use of short descriptions, but only on a few of the products – again, these are probably the most popular products the company offers. These descriptions are action oriented and are relatively easy to understand. Some terminology might scare off potential buyers.

5. Marketing
The products pathway page doesn’t use much marketing, but at least one of the links – the “Plan to Upgrade…” link – seems to be more advertisement than useful portal. Nevertheless, the marketing is subtle and potentially useful, and therefore not so much of a nuisance.

6. Smooth Path
As long as my task is oriented to learning more about a specific product, or a specific category of product, the path seems fairly straight forward. However, if I were not sure what product I wanted, or even if I could make use of any of these products, I would be unsure of where to go from here. In that case, I would probably need to make use of the search function, or back button since I would feel like I had not chosen the correct pathway page to lead me to more general information.

7. The First Plausible Option
The order of information on the page seems workable. The top of the product index is above the fold, which should draw attention, and the two categorized links in the header graphic are useful. That being said, since the most important information should be high on the page, I wonder if the space used for the graphic couldn’t be put to better use. The graphic, while visually appealing, doesn’t really communicate anything about the products, and most users will probably ignore. Incidentally, the two categorized links inside the graphic are easy to miss when skimming. My attention immediately goes to the blue Product Index section.

8. Landing in the Page
VMware is consistant throughout their pages in terms of keeping their logo and search box in the same location across pages, as well as in making good use of global navigation, and in linking to relevant information within the same part of the site. The logo also serves as a link to the home page, which also follows convention – though it is not clearly labeled.